Editor's note: Novelist George Johnston (1912-70), author of My Brother Jack, served as an official war correspondent in the Pacific, Europe, the US and Asia. He was reporting from New Guinea in October 1942 when Australian troops struggled along the Kokoda trail to beat back the Japanese advance towards Port Moresby.
From chapter 5 'The Cleansing', pp. 155-167
Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of
'From the cliffs of Gallipoli, through the jungles of Vietnam, to the deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq, Australia's short history is a story of war.
'The battlefield has shaped the way we define ourselves - the Australian values of mateship, courage under fire, larrikinism - but few of us have witnessed these scenes firsthand. Soldiers writing from the front and journalists on the ground have formed the way we think about war and so formed the way we think about ourselves.
'In The Penguin Book of Australian War Writing, author and journalist Mark Dapin has gathered together the finest of these accounts. Starting with Watkin Tench's observations of an Aboriginal war party, we see the terror, confusion and occasional heroics of the front line through the eyes of some of our best writers, including AB Paterson, Martin Boyd, Patrick White, Alan Moorehead, Kenneth Slessor, Peter Cundall and Barry Heard.
'These remarkable letters, diaries, memoirs and reports remind us of our history, and of our responsibility in recording and remembering what happens in the wars we send our soldiers to fight. (From the publisher's website.)
The author spent the period covered in this diary as war correspondent in New Guinea for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and the London Daily Telegraph. The Diary is an historical document as well as a personal record of the author and gives a day by day account leading to the Japanese occupation of New Guinea and the imposition of martial law in Papua and New Guinea.